Sunday, December 2, 2012

Get outside!

It is 61 degrees out today. But I have so much to do inside that I can't go enjoy it!!
I hope everyone who is experiencing this warm spell is out there walking, hiking, biking, picnicking and otherwise romping around in the fresh air. :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little things...

It's almost my favorite part of hiking... finding tiny little mushrooms, or fairy stools, as my kids call them. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Fall Altar...

Inspired by one of Rachel's personal fall altars, we put together this little collection so you can have one too.
  Including a deer jawbone and antler, gray fox skull, and chicken feather, this collection also features a walnut shell, pine cone, and buckeye to symbolize the fruits of autumn. We chose the minerals for their traditional properties: a quartz cluster for focus, hematite for increased intuition, red jasper for protection, bloodstone for strength in magical workings, and galena for successful spiritual journeys.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's the First EVER Feather & Moss Giveaway!

The first ever!  This is happening!!

We've been getting a lot of love on both the Tumblr and Etsy communities of late, from some really awesome followers and a large number of just outstanding treasuries.  Positive word of mouth is a powerful thing, and we're extremely grateful for all your reblogs and linkbacks and treasuring.  It's been amazing, really.  So we thought a little celebratory giveaway was in order!

What you can win

This here miniature curiosity collection!  Twelve vintage watchmaker vials containing:  squirrel vertebra, baby blue parakeet feathers, coyote toe bone, red fox claw, red Mediterranean coral, crinoid fossils, black snail shell, mouse bones, moss agate chips, mink tooth, rat leg bone, and pyrite chips.  The vials live in a little royal blue case.  It's all very pretty, you will love it.

What you do

There are a few ways you can win this tiny cabinet of curiosities.  If you're on Tumblr, you can simply follow us (if you aren't already) AND reblog the giveaway announcement post -- you can "like" it too, but we only count the reblogs! 

If you have another blog elsewhere, you can create a blog post which must include the following details:  1) the photo above of the giveaway prize, 2) a link back to the giveaway listing so that others can get the relevant details, 3) your favorite Feather & Moss collection, past or present!, 4) and then please send us a link to your blog post at so we can count you!

Have more than one blog?  Then you have more than one chance to win!  Get the message out on, say, both Tumblr and Blogger and you'll get your name in the hat twice!  (You can post as much as you want on any one blog, however, multiple posts on one individual blog will only be counted once, i.e., multiple Tumblr posts only count as one vote.  You increase your odds by posting on different blogs.  Make sense?)

How this is gonna go down

This is a names-in-a-hat thing; we'll draw the winner at 8am (Central Time) on Monday, September 10th and contact you immediately.  We need to hear back from the winner within 24 hours with your mailing info (a re-draw will occur if not).  We will announce the winner here and on Tumblr as soon as we make contact with the winner!

The giveaway is open to all our international friends, too.  All ya'll can play!

Good luck, and thank you everyone for showing us your love!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Rachel has five cats, none of which are allowed in our work room.  This is because they are not... trusted to govern themselves with restraint.  We go in, we shut the door behind us.  It's the only room in the house they are not invited in, and this restriction, plus the fact that they are probably getting tantalizing whiffs of strange smells that need to be investigated, seems to be nigh on agonizing for the three youngest cats.  But particularly for Hazel, who we frequently find curled up in the room right outside our work space, staring up at us and looking a little indignant that she's still not allowed to hang with us in there.

Today though, Hazel got what she wanted when some curiosities were left on the piano after a photoshoot:

If loving you is wrong, then... well, she'll just sleep it off either way.

Apparently the excitement wore her out.  Fortunately, that vintage book was there for a pillow.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

August sale!

Hey there gentlefolk!  We've got a couple of curiosity collections -- Clarissa and Talia -- that have been sitting in the shop for longer than most, so we decided to put them on sale at 25% off through August.  If by September they are still hanging around, we'll use their contents to re-imagine new collections.  So, if you're interested in these two, get 'em while they're hot!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What I've been up to while Vanessa is in class. {photo heavy post!}

Well since the last blog update, Vanessa went ahead and totally ditched me for a stupid summer class. (just kidding... sort of) She's been super busy. I have been busy too, but not with school.  The above images are of a spectacular new vial set we have up in the shop.
On to my personal adventures... I went here-
and yeah I "kayaked" in that water. It was about 2 feet deep and I spent a lot of time carrying the kayak. I slept here, in this cabin:
My bed was up there in a little loft. I got to feel like the 'kid' in the group (my sisters in law are all at least 12 years older than I am) since none of them were willing to climb that ladder and sleep on an institutional vinyl mattress. Ahhh... family mini breaks.

   I spent some time finding poisonous plants to harvest:

Taping some of said plants to my wall...

Waiting for dead birds to finish decomposing...

Taking my son to the nature center nearby and wondering how I could smuggle this out without being arrested :

Going to the petting farm where one of these pigs had a blue eye and a brown eye :

And driving to Omaha to meet my friend halfway (she lives in Colorado). She picked up my three daughters to take them back with her. The trip there was fine, the overnight stay was fine, but I drove back at such slow speeds I actually aged visibly by the time I arrived back home. No not really, but here:
Yeah I seriously went about 20 for 3 or so hours. I was travelling slow enough to get a decent photo of a turkey vulture perched on a post:

After finally arriving home, I went to the river to look for awesome curiosities and mostly found these:
 It was approximately 98 degrees outside so it smelled terrific! (I mean, um, gross)
I left a little stack of rocks by the stinking dead fish:

AND in case any of you wondered, this is what half of my face looks like:
 There. That's a recap of some stuff I did while completely abandoned by my partner in crime.
I apologize for the photo quality, most of these were taken with my phone. (I'm ashamed)
Until next time...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nature Spotlight: Hawk Moths

Also known as sphinx moths, these little (well, not so little for a moth) cuties are in the Sphingidae family of the Lepidoptera order of the insect world, which includes both moths and butterflies.  Perhaps you will remember their brief fling with celebrity following the release of the 1991 film, The Silence of the Lambs.  The gothy Death's-head Hawkmoth had a pivotal cameo role and was featured on the film's theatrical release poster IN FRONT OF THE STAR.

A brush with fame.  The 90's were heady days for many of us.

Hawk moths are sizable little buggers, with some of them reaching hummingbird proportions.  They have rapid wingbeats, and some species are also able to hover like a hummingbird, unlike most other nectar feeding insects, which will typically perch on a flower to extract nectar.  Because of this energetically demanding feeding behavior, hawk moths prefer flowers with larger nectar loads, 'cause when you eat on the run you really want to get the biggest bang for your buck.

A privet hawk moth hanging out on a hand and hummingbird hawkmoth feeding while hovering, givin' you the side-eye.

They are also typically nocturnal or crepuscular  (active at night or twilight).  As such, the flowers that they select often have a predictable host of characteristics that attract hawk moths, such as pale or white flowers that open and produce nectar at night, a tubular petal morphology, nectar spurs, and a robust fragrance, so that the flower provides strong visual and scent cues.   As you can see in the picture below, the moths have a long, thin proboscis, which is basically like having a long sipping straw for a mouth. 

A giant hawk moth with proboscis extended.  Cf. Andy Dwyer's super straw for human approximation.

What's cool is that there is a correlation between hawk moth proboscis length and the length of the petals (or corolla) and nectar spurs of the plants they pollinate.  Why?  Because there's an evolutionary "motivation" for the plants to match lengths.  Generally, there's a sort of helpful relationship between plant and pollinator:  the plant makes nectar for the pollinator to eat, and the pollinator either distributes pollen onto a flower's "swimsuit area" so that fertilization can occur or carries pollen off to another flower.  If you're a flower with a short corolla and a pollinator with a super long proboscis takes your nectar there is no way for the pollinator to make enough contact with you to make a pollen swap, so you will not reproduce, and your short-petal genes get voted off the island. 

There's a fun story about Charles Darwin getting a box of orchids in the mail one day for his studies.  In the box was an orchid found only in Madagascar (Angraecum sesquipedale) with a nectar spur that was like, 12 inches long.  Darwin was intrigued.  The whole point of a plant's nectar, basically, is to attract a pollinator, so what the heck was the point of a crazy long nectar spur, given that Darwin was not aware of any pollinator with equipment long enough to get to the nectar at the bottom of it?  Long story short, he predicted there was some moth, probably in the Sphingidae family, that pollinated this orchid.  And sure enough, about a half century later, Xanthopan morgani was identified:

Isn't that sweet?  A natural selection love connection.  So now you know a little bit more about giant moths than you did earlier today.  How about a super adorable hawk moth pic to sign out???

Don't you want to just rub his furry back?  Cute lil bastard...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flea market extravaganza!

I can't help but feel that "flea market extravaganza" is redundant, because when is a flea market NOT an extravaganza?  Like saying PIN number or ATM machine.  The thing is the thing, y'know?  The word is part of the name, it's not like you have to say the last part of the phrase at all because



We went to a giant (extravagant?) flea market a couple weekends ago, to find new things for the shop and possibly for ourselves.  We picked up a bunch of sweet vintage skeleton keys for ya'll, an old test tube rack, and another microscope.  We saw, oh, about $300 worth of antique books that we wanted, and that's probably lowballing it.  This one in particular was fetching:


As a matter of fact, no, we could not haz, because we could not locate the booth person it belonged to for the life of us.  So, they lost a sale.  And frankly they were lucky we didn't just walk off with it but we have MORALS or something so we restrained ourselves.

 We also saw some skulls:

The one behind my arm is a cougar skull, the other two magnificent specimens are bear skulls.  Bear skulls, in our experience, tend to run at around $100 or so, and these were about that much.  I guess that's actually not a bad price for an f'ing bear skull, but as yet neither Rachel nor myself have been able to commit the money to getting one for ourselves.  We have discussed going dutch and sharing custody of the skull in some sort of 6 months on, 6 months thing, but I believe bear skulls for each of us is a likely eventuality, at some point in the nebulous, far off future.  Because sharing custody of a skull would be weird, obvs.

Oh, and then there was this:

I mean, what the hell.  What is the deal with freaky-ass teddy bears at antique markets?  Compare this with another teddy I saw at an antique mall in Pennsylvania last year:

Quid pro quo, Clarice

I can't even.

How about ending this with some lovely vintage tins to look at so you can scour images of disturbing children's toys from your brain!

Yeah, those are pretty.

Keep an eye out on the shop, we'll be adding some new curiosity collections in the next week or two, and if you're into vintage science-y stuff, we've got some exciting test microscope and test tube type things coming down the pipe.  So stay tuned: same bat time, same bat channel!

Monday, May 28, 2012

New collection: "The Huntsman"

So!  This is new:

Inspired by our a) excitement for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman in general and b) our excitement about the wonderfully large Chris Hemsworth as said Huntsman in particular, we put together this woodsy, sort of masculine collection of curiosities. 

We're enjoying the look of all the sharp points in the lower level of the box; rest assured that the porcupine quills do not joke around.  Also, I'm pretty sure Rachel and I have both stabbed ourselves more than once on honey locust thorns over the past few months.  The thorns are from a grove of honey locust trees in the woods near my house, which I came across last fall while bone hunting.  Although actually, when I say I "came across" the grove, what I mean is that I "nearly impaled my entire body on a tree covered in 6 inch thorns because I was watching the ground and not what kind of tree I was about to walk into."

Also, obviously, the raccoon skull (with all its teeth!) and that incredible antler fragment are just really bringing it.

We are also especially fond of the coyote teeth and claws we picked up recently.  You can see them next to each other in the back row there.  Can you imagine that claw sinking into your flesh?  (Probably, if you have cats that are anything like Rachel's, who like to give me a friendly clawing to remind me to keep petting them when I visit.)

Go check out "The Huntsman" collection in our shop and see all of Rachel's lovely photographs, which do not have my MSPaint scribbling on them!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Inaugural post: Behind the scenes at Feather & Moss

Official shop texting discussion re: a recently acquired tarantula exoskeleton.  Concerned about Rachel's creepy-crawly phobia and the high-octane nightmare-fuel nature of the exoskeleton, I offered her some options:

Vanessa:  I'm gonna cut the exoskeleton into parts.  I think we can extend its use if we put the legs in vials, and it might be easier for you to work with... Unless you are interested in viewing it whole?

Rachel:  I'm not sure.  what do you think?

V:  I believe you would have a hard time dealing with it up close.  It's softening up enough to where I can stretch it back out, i can send you a pic and you tell me if you want it in pieces when i bring it.

R:  ok

V:  [pic]

R:  jesus!!!

R:  how can you hold that???

V:  It's like the cicada shells

R:  fuuuuuuuck no it's not!!!

V:  It's creepy but inert!

R:  *wtf wtf wtf wtf*

V:  Yeah i'ma go ahead and cut it up.

R:  yep.